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September 7, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 7, 2018

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 7, 2018 Alan Rusonik Many people are familiar a symbol of our dedication values is leadership. The community at a higher level atime. This iswhat has made with the "Aleinu" prayer and commitment to G-d. core value reads "We em- than their peers who did not Jewish Academy of Orlando recited at the conclusion of The prayer also contains power students to become attend Jewish day school. The a unique and special place each Jewish prayer service, the phrase "L'Taken Olam leaders and challenge them idea of Tikkun Olam is at the in our community for over I would even venture to say B'Malchut Shaddai" which to go out and change the core of everything we teach 40 years. that it is one of the favorite means "to repair the world world through the concept and do at Jewish Academy. It May this New Year be a prayers of the Jewish people in G-d's sovereignty." From of Tikkun Olam." Jewish day is the message that we bless year of peace and righteous- becauseit indicates that ser- this phrase, we have derived schools have been nurturing our students with each and ness, and may we all work vices are coming to an end. the more familiar concept theleadersofourJewish corn- every day. As in the Aleinu together to repair our broken Whatmanypeopledon'treal- ofTikkun Olam, the call to munitiesfordecades.Around prayer, we teach our students world.L'ShanaTovaTikatevu izeisthatthisancientprayer the Jewish people to repair the country, graduates of thatit is incumbent oneach V'Techatemu! May you be was originally only recited our broken and fractured Jewish day schools are the and every one of them to written and inscribed in the as part of the High Holiday worldinpartnershipwiththe leaders of their Federations, make our world a betterBookofLifeforayearofhealth liturgy. Itwassopopular that Torah's teachings. This call JCCs, synagogues and other place, to look at the world and wholeness! May this be a the rabbis decided to incor- for universal justice has been communal organizations,around them and say "how year oflearning and growing porate it as the concluding a clarion call of the Jewish Studies indicate that Jewish can I make a difference?" At for you and all of your loved prayer of our daily service, people since ancient times, day school graduates tend to Jewish Academy, we encour- ones! DuringAleinu we bend our At Jewish Academy of give more Tzedakah, support age our students to change Alan Rusonik, knees and bow in prayer as Orlando, one of our core Israel and are engaged in the the world, one good deed at head of school A great at Tova and go ! I have to confess some- thing--when I was in college, I did not go to Hillel. I made a deal with my mother that I would go once a semester for a bagel brunch or a Shabbat din- ner, but after fall of my fresh- men year I decided it wasn't for me (sorry Mom). Even five years ago when I moved to the Orlando area to help restart Central Florida Hillel I was skeptical. Does Hillel work? Does it have an impact? Can a trulywelcoming and inclusive community really exist on a college campus? Through no small amount of coaching, and an even larger amount of patience, my friend and mentor, Aaron Weil (whose High Holiday message I imagine is somewhere near here), I came to see the impact that a truly exceptional Hillel can have. Notably, that excel- lent Hillels develop excellent students, who foster excel- lence on campus, and it's inspiring to watch an excellent Hillel develop at Stetson. In the past few months, Stetson Hillel has hosted: The first Shavuot cel- ebration in the history of the university where Jewish and non-Jewish students came to eat cheesecake, celebrate Sha- vuot, and discuss command- ments and values together. The largest Shabbat dinner in the history of the university, with 1/3 of the Jew- ish population in attendance, the president and her husband joining us, and a spirit that can only come when you're expe- riencing something magical. A back to school BBQ where over 80 hot dogs, 40 hamburgers and tons of chips and sodas were consumed in the sprawling yard of the Stetson Hillel House. A weekly values-based "Jew Wanna Talk About It?" discussion series where stu- dents come to discuss Jewish values and how they relate to each themselves, to the campus, and to the greater Jewish community. Looking ahead, Stetson Hillel has a full program of holidays, events, shindigs, get-togethers, meals parties and other opportunities for Jews on campus to be together including: Weekly Shabbat dinners High Holiday meals and services for Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah Awater cleanup, as part of the statewide Reverse Tashlich program developed by Hillels of the Florida Suncoast Delegations, the first in the history of Stetson, to the JNF College Summit in Arizo- na, and the AIPAC SabanART training in New Jersey A Chanukah bar night to celebrate the end of the semes- ter, celebrate Chanukah, and add our own light to the world We are also developing our first AIPAC Cadre (Hat- terPAC), working on bringing Jewish Greek life to campus, and beginning discussions with campus catering on ensuring students who keep Kosher have options to eat on campus with their meal plan. It's an exciting time, and it's a busy time, and you're welcome to join us. So yes, Hillel does work, and at Stetson it's off to a great start; the community we are developing is meaningful, inclusive, and welcoming. As we go into 5779 may Sam Friedman the knowledge that even in DeLand, Florida, Judaism matters, allow us all to have a good year. L'Shana Tova, and Go Hatters! Sam Friedman, Hillel director